The French and Indian War (1754–1763) pitted the colonies of British America against those of New France, each side supported by military units from the parent country and by American Indian allies. At the start of the war, the French colonies had a population of roughly 60,000 settlers, compared with 2 million in the British colonies.The outnumbered French particularly depended on the Indians.
British America included the British Empire's colonial territories in America from 1607 to 1783. These colonies were formally known as British America and the British West Indies before the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and formed the United States of America. After that, the term British North America was used to describe the remainder of Great Britain's continental American possessions. That term was used informally in 1783 by the end of the American Revolution, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report.
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Great Britain and Spain in 1763 under the Treaty of Paris (1763).
The European nations declared a wider war upon one another overseas in 1756, two years into the French and Indian war, and some view the French and Indian War as being merely the American theater of the worldwide Seven Years' War of 1756–63; however, the French and Indian War is viewed in the United States as a singular conflict which was not associated with any European war. The name French and Indian War is used mainly in the United States, referring to the two enemies of the British colonists, while European historians use the term Seven Years' War, as do English-speaking Canadians.French Canadians call it Guerre de la Conquête ("War of the Conquest") or (rarely) the Fourth Intercolonial War.
The Seven Years' War was a global conflict fought between 1756 and 1763. It involved every European great power of the time and spanned five continents, affecting Europe, the Americas, West Africa, South Asia, and the Philippines. The conflict split Europe into two coalitions: one was led by the Kingdom of Great Britain and included the Kingdom of Prussia, the Kingdom of Portugal, the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and other small German states; while the other was led by the Kingdom of France and included the Austrian-led Holy Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Swedish Empire. Meanwhile, in India, some regional polities within the increasingly fragmented Mughal Empire, with the support of the French, tried to crush a British attempt to conquer Bengal.
The British colonists were supported at various times by the Iroquois, Catawba, and Cherokee tribes, and the French colonists were supported by Wabanaki Confederacy member tribes Abenaki and Mi'kmaq, and the Algonquin, Lenape, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Shawnee, and Wyandot tribes. Fighting took place primarily along the frontiers between New France and the British colonies, from the Province of Virginia in the south to Newfoundland in the north. It began with a dispute over control of the confluence of the Allegheny River and Monongahela River called the Forks of the Ohio, and the site of the French Fort Duquesne in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The dispute erupted into violence in the Battle of Jumonville Glen in May 1754, during which Virginia militiamen under the command of 22-year-old George Washington ambushed a French patrol.
The Cherokee are one of the indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, they were concentrated in what is now southwestern North Carolina, southeastern Tennessee, and the tips of western South Carolina and northeastern Georgia.
The Wabanaki Confederacy are a First Nations and Native American confederation of five principal nations: the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki, and Penobscot.
The Algonquins are indigenous inhabitants of North America who speak the Algonquin language, a divergent dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is part of the Algonquian language family. Culturally and linguistically, they are closely related to the Odawa and Ojibwe, with whom they form the larger Anicinàpe (Anishinaabe) grouping. The Algonquin people call themselves Omàmiwinini or the more generalised name of Anicinàpe.
In 1755, six colonial governors met with General Edward Braddock, the newly arrived British Army commander, and planned a four-way attack on the French. None succeeded, and the main effort by Braddock proved a disaster; he lost the Battle of the Monongahela on July 9, 1755 and died a few days later. British operations failed in the frontier areas of the Province of Pennsylvania and the Province of New York during 1755–57 due to a combination of poor management, internal divisions, effective Canadian scouts, French regular forces, and Indian warrior allies. In 1755, the British captured Fort Beauséjour on the border separating Nova Scotia from Acadia, and they ordered the expulsion of the Acadians (1755–64) soon afterwards. Orders for the deportation were given by Commander-in-Chief William Shirley without direction from Great Britain. The Acadians were expelled, both those captured in arms and those who had sworn the loyalty oath to the King. Indians likewise were driven off the land to make way for settlers from New England.
Major General Edward Braddock was a British officer and commander-in-chief for the Thirteen Colonies during the actions at the start of the French and Indian War (1754–1763), which is also known in Europe and Canada as the Seven Years' War (1756–1763). He is generally best remembered for his command of a disastrous expedition against the French-occupied Ohio River Valley in 1755, in which he lost his life.
The Braddock expedition, also called Braddock's campaign or, more commonly, Braddock's Defeat, was a failed British military expedition which attempted to capture the French Fort Duquesne in the summer of 1755 during the French and Indian War. It was defeated at the Battle of the Monongahela on July 9, and the survivors retreated. The expedition takes its name from General Edward Braddock, who led the British forces and died in the effort. Braddock's defeat was a major setback for the British in the early stages of the war with France and has been described as one of the most disastrous defeats for the British in the 18th century.
The Battle of the Monongahela took place on 9 July 1755, at the beginning of the French and Indian War, at Braddock's Field in what is now Braddock, Pennsylvania, 10 miles (16 km) east of Pittsburgh. A British force under General Edward Braddock, moving to take Fort Duquesne, was defeated by a force of French and Canadian troops under Captain Daniel Liénard de Beaujeu with its American Indian allies.
The British colonial government fell in the region of Nova Scotia after several disastrous campaigns in 1757, including a failed expedition against Louisbourg and the Siege of Fort William Henry; this last was followed by Indians torturing and massacring their colonial victims. William Pitt came to power and significantly increased British military resources in the colonies at a time when France was unwilling to risk large convoys to aid the limited forces that they had in New France, preferring to concentrate their forces against Prussia and its allies who were now engaged in the Seven Years' War in Europe. Between 1758 and 1760, the British military launched a campaign to capture French Canada. They succeeded in capturing territory in surrounding colonies and ultimately the city of Quebec (1759). The British later lost the Battle of Sainte-Foy west of Quebec (1760), but the French ceded Canada in accordance with the Treaty of Paris (1763).
The Louisbourg Expedition (1757) was a failed British attempt to capture the French Fortress of Louisbourg on Île Royale during the Seven Years' War.
The Siege of Fort William Henry was conducted in August 1757 by French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm against the British-held Fort William Henry. The fort, located at the southern end of Lake George, on the frontier between the British Province of New York and the French Province of Canada, was garrisoned by a poorly supported force of British regulars and provincial militia led by Lieutenant Colonel George Monro. After several days of bombardment, Monro surrendered to Montcalm, whose force included nearly 2,000 Indians from a large number of tribes. The terms of surrender included the withdrawal of the garrison to Fort Edward, with specific terms that the French military protect the British from the Indians as they withdrew from the area.
William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, was a British statesman of the Whig group who served twice as Prime Minister of Great Britain in the middle of the 18th century. Historians call him Pitt of Chatham, or William Pitt the Elder, to distinguish him from his son, William Pitt the Younger, who also was a prime minister. Pitt was also known as The Great Commoner, because of his long-standing refusal to accept a title until 1766.
France also ceded its territory east of the Mississippi to Great Britain, as well as French Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to its ally Spain in compensation for Spain's loss to Britain of Spanish Florida. (Spain had ceded Florida to Britain in exchange for the return of Havana, Cuba.) France's colonial presence north of the Caribbean was reduced to the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, confirming Great Britain's position as the dominant colonial power in America.
Louisiana or French Louisiana was an administrative district of New France. Under French control 1682 to 1762 and 1801 (nominally) to 1803, the area was named in honor of King Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. It originally covered an expansive territory that included most of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River and stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.
The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river of the second-largest drainage system on the North American continent, second only to the Hudson Bay drainage system. Its source is Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and it flows generally south for 2,320 miles (3,730 km) to the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. The main stem is entirely within the United States; the total drainage basin is 1,151,000 sq mi (2,980,000 km2), of which only about one percent is in Canada. The Mississippi ranks as the fourth-longest and fifteenth-largest river by discharge in the world. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Spanish Florida was the first major European land claim and attempted settlement in North America during the European Age of Discovery. La Florida formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire during Spanish colonization of the Americas. While its boundaries were never clearly or formally defined, the territory was much larger than the present-day state of Florida, extending over much of what is now the southeastern United States, including all of present-day Florida plus portions of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and southeastern Louisiana. Spain's claim to this vast area was based on several wide-ranging expeditions mounted during the 16th century. A number of missions, settlements, and small forts existed in the 16th and to a lesser extent in the 17th century; eventually they were abandoned due to pressure from the expanding English and French colonial projects, the collapse of the native populations, and the general difficulty in becoming agriculturally or economically self-sufficient. By the 18th century, Spain's control over La Florida did not extend much beyond its three forts, all located in present-day Florida: St. Augustine, St. Marks, and Pensacola.
In British America, wars were often named after the sitting British monarch, such as King William's War or Queen Anne's War. There had already been a King George's War in the 1740s during the reign of King George II, so British colonists named this conflict after their opponents, and it became known as the French and Indian War.This continues as the standard name for the war in the United States, although Indians fought on both sides of the conflict. It also led into the Seven Years' War overseas, a much larger conflict between France and Great Britain that did not involve the American colonies; some historians make a connection between the French and Indian War and the Seven Years' War overseas, but most residents of the United States consider them as two separate conflicts—only one of which involved the American colonies, and American historians generally use the traditional name. Less frequently used names for the war include the Fourth Intercolonial War and the Great War for the Empire.
In Europe, the French and Indian War is conflated into the Seven Years' War and not given a separate name. "Seven Years" refers to events in Europe, from the official declaration of war in 1756—two years after the French and Indian War had started—to the signing of the peace treaty in 1763. The French and Indian War in America, by contrast, was largely concluded in six years from the Battle of Jumonville Glen in 1754 to the capture of Montreal in 1760.
Canadians conflate both the European and American conflicts into the Seven Years' War (Guerre de Sept Ans).French Canadians also use the term "War of Conquest" (Guerre de la Conquête), since it is the war in which Canada was conquered by the British and became part of the British Empire. In Quebec, this term was promoted by popular historians Jacques Lacoursière and Denis Vaugeois, who borrowed from the ideas of Maurice Séguin in considering this war as a dramatic tipping point of French Canadian identity and nationhood.
At this time, America east of the Mississippi River was largely claimed by either Great Britain or France. Large areas had no colonial settlements. The French population numbered about 75,000 and was heavily concentrated along the St. Lawrence River valley, with some also in Acadia (present-day New Brunswick and parts of Nova Scotia), including Île Royale (Cape Breton Island). Fewer lived in New Orleans, Biloxi, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, and small settlements in the Illinois Country, hugging the east side of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. French fur traders and trappers traveled throughout the St. Lawrence and Mississippi watersheds, did business with local Indian tribes, and often married Indian women.Traders married daughters of chiefs, creating high-ranking unions.
British settlers outnumbered the French 20 to 1with a population of about 1.5 million ranged along the eastern coast of the continent from Nova Scotia and the Colony of Newfoundland in the north to the Province of Georgia in the south. Many of the older colonies had land claims that extended arbitrarily far to the west, as the extent of the continent was unknown at the time when their provincial charters were granted. Their population centers were along the coast, yet the settlements were growing into the interior. Nova Scotia had been captured from France in 1713, and it still had a significant French-speaking population. Britain also claimed Rupert's Land where the Hudson's Bay Company traded for furs with local Indian tribes.
In between the French and British colonists, large areas were dominated by Indian tribes. To the north, the Mi'kmaqs and the Abenakis were engaged in Father Le Loutre's War and still held sway in parts of Nova Scotia, Acadia, and the eastern portions of the province of Canada, as well as much of Maine.The Iroquois Confederation dominated much of upstate New York and the Ohio Country, although Ohio also included Algonquian-speaking populations of Delaware and Shawnee, as well as Iroquoian-speaking Mingos. These tribes were formally under Iroquois rule and were limited by them in their authority to make agreements.
The Southeast interior was dominated by Siouan-speaking Catawbas, Muskogee-speaking Creeks and Choctaw, and the Iroquoian-speaking Cherokee tribes.When war broke out, the French colonists used their trading connections to recruit fighters from tribes in western portions of the Great Lakes region, which was not directly subject to the conflict between the French and British; these included the Hurons, Mississaugs, Ojibwas, Winnebagos, and Potawatomi. The British colonists were supported in the war by the Iroquois Six Nations and also by the Cherokees, until differences sparked the Anglo-Cherokee War in 1758. In 1758, the Province of Pennsylvania successfully negotiated the Treaty of Easton in which a number of tribes in the Ohio Country promised neutrality in exchange for land concessions and other considerations. Most of the other northern tribes sided with the French, their primary trading partner and supplier of arms. The Creeks and Cherokees were subject to diplomatic efforts by both the French and British to gain either their support or neutrality in the conflict.
By this time, Spain claimed only the province of Florida in eastern America; it controlled Cuba and other territories in the West Indies that became military objectives in the Seven Years' War. Florida's European population was a few hundred, concentrated in St. Augustine and Pensacola.
At the start of the war, no French regular army troops were stationed in America, and few British troops. New France was defended by about 3,000 troupes de la marine, companies of colonial regulars (some of whom had significant woodland combat experience). The colonial government recruited militia support when needed. Most of the British colonies mustered local militia companies to deal with Indian threats, generally ill trained and available only for short periods, but they did not have any standing forces. Virginia, by contrast, had a large frontier with several companies of British regulars.
The colonial governments were used to operating independently of one another and of the government in London, a situation that complicated negotiations with Indian tribes, whose territories often encompassed land claimed by multiple colonies. After the war began, the leaders of the British Army establishment tried to impose constraints and demands on the colonial administrations.
New France's Governor-General Roland-Michel Barrin de La Galissonière was concerned about the incursion and expanding influence in the Ohio Country of British colonial traders such as George Croghan. In June 1747, he ordered Pierre-Joseph Céloron to lead a military expedition through the area. Its objectives were:
Céloron's expedition force consisted of about 200 Troupes de la marine and 30 Indians, and they covered about 3,000 miles (4,800 km) between June and November 1749. They went up the St. Lawrence, continued along the northern shore of Lake Ontario, crossed the portage at Niagara, and followed the southern shore of Lake Erie. At the Chautauqua Portage near Barcelona, New York, the expedition moved inland to the Allegheny River, which it followed to the site of Pittsburgh. There Céloron buried lead plates engraved with the French claim to the Ohio Country. Whenever he encountered British colonial merchants or fur-traders, he informed them of the French claims on the territory and told them to leave.
Céloron's expedition arrived at Logstown where the Indians in the area informed him that they owned the Ohio Country and that they would trade with the British colonists regardless of the French.He continued south until his expedition reached the confluence of the Ohio and the Miami rivers, which lay just south of the village of Pickawillany, the home of the Miami chief known as "Old Briton". Céloron threatened Old Briton with severe consequences if he continued to trade with British colonists, but Old Briton ignored the warning. Céloron returned disappointedly to Montreal in November 1749.
Céloron wrote an extensively detailed report. "All I can say is that the Natives of these localities are very badly disposed towards the French," he wrote, "and are entirely devoted to the English. I don't know in what way they could be brought back."Even before his return to Montreal, reports on the situation in the Ohio Country were making their way to London and Paris, each side proposing that action be taken. Massachusetts governor William Shirley was particularly forceful, stating that British colonists would not be safe as long as the French were present.
The War of the Austrian Succession (better known as King George's War) formally ended in 1748 with the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which was primarily focused on resolving issues in Europe. The issues of conflicting territorial claims between British and French colonies were turned over to a commission, but it reached no decision. Frontier areas were claimed by both sides, from Nova Scotia and Acadia in the north to the Ohio Country in the south. The disputes also extended into the Atlantic Ocean, where both powers wanted access to the rich fisheries of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.
In 1749, the British government gave land to the Ohio Company of Virginia for the purpose of developing trade and settlements in the Ohio Country.The grant required that it settle 100 families in the territory and construct a fort for their protection. But the territory was also claimed by Pennsylvania, and both colonies began pushing for action to improve their respective claims. In 1750, Christopher Gist explored the Ohio territory, acting on behalf of both Virginia and the company, and he opened negotiations with the Indian tribes at Logstown. He completed the 1752 Treaty of Logstown in which the local Indians agreed to terms through their "Half-King" Tanacharison and an Iroquois representative. These terms included permission to build a strong house at the mouth of the Monongahela River on the modern site of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By the late 17th century, the Iroquois had pushed many tribes out of the Ohio Valley, and they laid claim to it as their hunting ground by right of conquest.
Governor-General of New France Marquis de la Jonquière died on March 17, 1752, and he was temporarily replaced by Charles le Moyne de Longueuil. His permanent replacement was to be the Marquis Duquesne, but he did not arrive in New France until 1752 to take over the post.The continuing British activity in the Ohio territories prompted Longueuil to dispatch another expedition to the area under the command of Charles Michel de Langlade, an officer in the Troupes de la Marine. Langlade was given 300 men, including French-Canadians and warriors of the Ottawa tribe. His objective was to punish the Miami people of Pickawillany for not following Céloron's orders to cease trading with the British. On June 21, the French war party attacked the trading center at Pickawillany, capturing three traders and killing 14 Miami Indians, including Old Briton. He was reportedly ritually cannibalized by some Indians in the expedition party.
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In the spring of 1753, Paul Marin de la Malgue was given command of a 2,000-man force of Troupes de la Marine and Indians. His orders were to protect the King's land in the Ohio Valley from the British. Marin followed the route that Céloron had mapped out four years earlier. Céloron, however, had limited the record of French claims to the burial of lead plates, whereas Marin constructed and garrisoned forts. He first constructed Fort Presque Isle on Lake Erie's south shore near Erie, Pennsylvania, and he had a road built to the headwaters of LeBoeuf Creek. He then constructed a second fort at Fort Le Boeuf in Waterford, Pennsylvania, designed to guard the headwaters of LeBoeuf Creek. As he moved south, he drove off or captured British traders, alarming both the British and the Iroquois. Tanaghrisson was a chief of the Mingo Indians, who were remnants of Iroquois and other tribes who had been driven west by colonial expansion. He intensely disliked the French whom he accused of killing and eating his father. He traveled to Fort Le Boeuf and threatened the French with military action, which Marin contemptuously dismissed.
The Iroquois sent runners to the manor of William Johnson in upstate New York, who was the British Superintendent for Indian Affairs in the New York region and beyond. Johnson was known to the Iroquois as Warraghiggey, meaning "he who does great things." He spoke their languages and had become a respected honorary member of the Iroquois Confederacy in the area, and he was made a colonel of the Iroquois in 1746; he was later commissioned as a colonel of the Western New York Militia.
The Indian representatives and Johnson met with Governor George Clinton and officials from some of the other American colonies at Albany, New York. Mohawk Chief Hendrick was the speaker of their tribal council, and he insisted that the British abide by their obligations[ which? ] and block French expansion. Clinton did not respond to his satisfaction, and Hendrick said that the "Covenant Chain" was broken, a long-standing friendly relationship between the Iroquois Confederacy and the British Crown.
Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia was an investor in the Ohio Company, which stood to lose money if the French held their claim.He ordered 21 year-old Major George Washington (whose brother was another Ohio Company investor) of the Virginia Regiment to warn the French to leave Virginia territory in October 1753. Washington left with a small party, picking up Jacob Van Braam as an interpreter, Christopher Gist (a company surveyor working in the area), and a few Mingos led by Tanaghrisson. On December 12, Washington and his men reached Fort Le Boeuf.
Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre succeeded Marin as commander of the French forces after Marin died on October 29, and he invited Washington to dine with him. Over dinner, Washington presented Saint-Pierre with the letter from Dinwiddie demanding an immediate French withdrawal from the Ohio Country. Saint-Pierre said, "As to the Summons you send me to retire, I do not think myself obliged to obey it."He told Washington that France's claim to the region was superior to that of the British, since René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle had explored the Ohio Country nearly a century earlier.
Washington's party left Fort Le Boeuf early on December 16 and arrived in Williamsburg on January 16, 1754. He stated in his report, "The French had swept south",detailing the steps which they had taken to fortify the area, and their intention to fortify the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers.
Even before Washington returned, Dinwiddie had sent a company of 40 men under William Trent to that point where they began construction of a small stockaded fort in the early months of 1754.Governor Duquesne sent additional French forces under Claude-Pierre Pécaudy de Contrecœur to relieve Saint-Pierre during the same period, and Contrecœur led 500 men south from Fort Venango on April 5, 1754. These forces arrived at the fort on April 16, but Contrecœur generously allowed Trent's small company to withdraw. He purchased their construction tools to continue building what became Fort Duquesne.
Dinwiddie had ordered Washington to lead a larger force to assist Trent in his work, and Washington learned of Trent's retreat while he was en route.Mingo sachem Tanaghrisson had promised support to the British, so Washington continued toward Fort Duquesne and met with him. He then learned of a French scouting party in the area, so he combined Tanaghrisson's force with his own and surprised the Canadians on May 28 in what became known as the Battle of Jumonville Glen. They killed many of the Canadians, including their commanding officer Joseph Coulon de Jumonville, whose head was reportedly split open by Tanaghrisson with a tomahawk. Historian Fred Anderson suggests that Tanaghrisson was acting to gain the support of the British and to regain authority over his own people. They had been inclined to support the French, with whom they had long trading relationships. One of Tanaghrisson's men told Contrecoeur that Jumonville had been killed by British musket fire. Historians generally consider the Battle of Jumonville Glen as the opening battle of the French and Indian War in North America, and the start of hostilities in the Ohio valley.
Following the battle, Washington pulled back several miles and established Fort Necessity, which the Canadians attacked under the command of Jumonville's brother at the Battle of Fort Necessity on July 3. Washington surrendered and negotiated a withdrawal under arms. One of his men reported that the Canadian force was accompanied by Shawnee, Delaware, and Mingo warriors—just those whom Tanaghrisson was seeking to influence.
News of the two battles reached England in August. After several months of negotiations, the government of the Duke of Newcastle decided to send an army expedition the following year to dislodge the French.They chose Major General Edward Braddock to lead the expedition. Word of the British military plans leaked to France well before Braddock's departure for North America. In response, King Louis XV dispatched six regiments to New France under the command of Baron Dieskau in 1755. The British sent out their fleet in February 1755, intending to blockade French ports, but the French fleet had already sailed. Admiral Edward Hawke detached a fast squadron to North America in an attempt to intercept them.
In a second British action, Admiral Edward Boscawen fired on the French ship Alcide on June 8, 1755, capturing her and two troop ships.The British harassed French shipping throughout 1755, seizing ships and capturing seamen. These actions contributed to the eventual formal declarations of war in spring 1756.
An early important political response to the opening of hostilities was the convening of the Albany Congress in June and July, 1754. The goal of the congress was to formalize a unified front in trade and negotiations with various Indians, since allegiance of the various tribes and nations was seen to be pivotal in the war that was unfolding. The plan that the delegates agreed to was neither ratified by the colonial legislatures nor approved of by the Crown. Nevertheless, the format of the congress and many specifics of the plan became the prototype for confederation during the War of Independence.
The British formed an aggressive plan of operations for 1755. General Braddock was to lead the expedition to Fort Duquesne,while Massachusetts governor William Shirley was given the task of fortifying Fort Oswego and attacking Fort Niagara. Sir William Johnson was to capture Fort St. Frédéric at Crown Point, New York, and Lieutenant Colonel Robert Monckton was to capture Fort Beauséjour to the east on the frontier between Nova Scotia and Acadia.
Braddock led about 1,500 army troops and provincial militia on the Braddock expedition in June 1755 to take Fort Duquesne, with George Washington as one of his aides. The expedition was a disaster. It was attacked by French regulars, Canadian militiamen, and Indian warriors ambushing them from hiding places up in trees and behind logs, and Braddock called for a retreat. He was killed and approximately 1,000 British soldiers were killed or injured.The remaining 500 British troops retreated to Virginia, led by Washington. Washington and Thomas Gage played key roles in organizing the retreat—two future opponents in the American Revolutionary War.
The British government initiated a plan to increase their military capability in preparation for war following news of Braddock's defeat and the start of parliament's session in November 1755. Among the early legislative measures were the Recruiting Act 1756,the Commissions to Foreign Protestants Act 1756 for the Royal American Regiment, the Navigation Act 1756, and the Continuance of Acts 1756. England passed the Naval Prize Act 1756 following the proclamation of war on May 17 to allow the capture of ships and establish privateering.
The French acquired a copy of the British war plans, including the activities of Shirley and Johnson. Shirley's efforts to fortify Oswego were bogged down in logistical difficulties, exacerbated by his inexperience in managing large expeditions. In conjunction, he was made aware that the French were massing for an attack on Fort Oswego in his absence when he planned to attack Fort Niagara. As a response, he left garrisons at Oswego, Fort Bull, and Fort Williams, the last two located on the Oneida Carry between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek at Rome, New York. Supplies were cached at Fort Bull for use in the projected attack on Niagara.
Johnson's expedition was better organized than Shirley's, which was noticed by New France's governor the Marquis de Vaudreuil. Vaudreuil had been concerned about the extended supply line to the forts on the Ohio, and he had sent Baron Dieskau to lead the defenses at Frontenac against Shirley's expected attack. Vaudreuil saw Johnson as the larger threat and sent Dieskau to Fort St. Frédéric to meet that threat. Dieskau planned to attack the British encampment at Fort Edward at the upper end of navigation on the Hudson River, but Johnson had strongly fortified it, and Dieskau's Indian support was reluctant to attack. The two forces finally met in the bloody Battle of Lake George between Fort Edward and Fort William Henry. The battle ended inconclusively, with both sides withdrawing from the field. Johnson's advance stopped at Fort William Henry, and the French withdrew to Ticonderoga Point, where they began the construction of Fort Carillon (later renamed Fort Ticonderoga after the British captured it in 1759).
Colonel Monckton captured Fort Beauséjour in June 1755 in the sole British success that year, cutting off the French Fortress Louisbourg from land-based reinforcements. To cut vital supplies to Louisbourg, Nova Scotia's Governor Charles Lawrence ordered the deportation of the French-speaking Acadian population from the area. Monckton's forces, including companies of Rogers' Rangers, forcibly removed thousands of Acadians, chasing down many who resisted and sometimes committing atrocities. Cutting off supplies to Louisbourg led to its demise.The Acadian resistance was sometimes quite stiff, in concert with Indian allies including the Mi'kmaq, with ongoing frontier raids against Dartmouth and Lunenburg, among others. The only clashes of any size were at Petitcodiac in 1755 and at Bloody Creek near Annapolis Royal in 1757, other than the campaigns to expel the Acadians ranging around the Bay of Fundy, on the Petitcodiac and St. John rivers, and Île Saint-Jean.
Following the death of Braddock, William Shirley assumed command of British forces in North America, and he laid out his plans for 1756 at a meeting in Albany in December 1755. He proposed renewing the efforts to capture Niagara, Crown Point, and Duquesne, with attacks on Fort Frontenac on the north shore of Lake Ontario and an expedition through the wilderness of the Maine district and down the Chaudière River to attack the city of Quebec. His plan, however, got bogged down by disagreements and disputes with others, including William Johnson and New York's Governor Sir Charles Hardy, and consequently gained little support.
Newcastle replaced him in January 1756 with Lord Loudoun, with Major General James Abercrombie as his second in command. Neither of these men had as much campaign experience as the trio of officers whom France sent to North America.French regular army reinforcements arrived in New France in May 1756, led by Major General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and seconded by the Chevalier de Lévis and Colonel François-Charles de Bourlamaque, all experienced veterans from the War of the Austrian Succession. On May 18, 1756, Britain formally declared war on France, which expanded the war into Europe and came to be known as the Seven Years' War.
Governor Vaudreuil had ambitions to become the French commander in chief, in addition to his role as governor, and he acted during the winter of 1756 before those reinforcements arrived. Scouts had reported the weakness of the British supply chain, so he ordered an attack against the forts which Shirley had erected at the Oneida Carry. In the Battle of Fort Bull, French forces destroyed the fort and large quantities of supplies, including 45,000 pounds of gunpowder. They set back any British hopes for campaigns on Lake Ontario and endangered the Oswego garrison, already short on supplies. French forces in the Ohio valley also continued to intrigue with Indians throughout the area, encouraging them to raid frontier settlements. This led to ongoing alarms along the western frontiers, with streams of refugees returning east to get away from the action.
The new British command was not in place until July. Abercrombie arrived in Albany but refused to take any significant actions until Loudoun approved them, and Montcalm took bold action against his inertia. He built on Vaudreuil's work harassing the Oswego garrison and executed a strategic feint by moving his headquarters to Ticonderoga, as if to presage another attack along Lake George. With Abercrombie pinned down at Albany, Montcalm slipped away and led the successful attack on Oswego in August. In the aftermath, Montcalm and the Indians under his command disagreed about the disposition of prisoners' personal effects. The Europeans did not consider them prizes and prevented the Indians from stripping the prisoners of their valuables, which angered the Indians.
Loudoun was a capable administrator but a cautious field commander, and he planned one major operation for 1757: an attack on New France's capital of Quebec. He left a sizable force at Fort William Henry to distract Montcalm and began organizing for the expedition to Quebec. He was then ordered to attack Louisbourg first by William Pitt, the Secretary of State responsible for the colonies. The expedition was beset by delays of all kinds but was finally ready to sail from Halifax, Nova Scotia, in early August. In the meantime, French ships had escaped the British blockade of the French coast, and a fleet awaited Loudoun at Louisbourg which outnumbered the British fleet. Faced with this strength, Loudoun returned to New York amid news that a massacre had occurred at Fort William Henry.
French irregular forces (Canadian scouts and Indians) harassed Fort William Henry throughout the first half of 1757. In January, they ambushed British rangers near Ticonderoga. In February, they launched a raid against the position across the frozen Lake George, destroying storehouses and buildings outside the main fortification. In early August, Montcalm and 7,000 troops besieged the fort, which capitulated with an agreement to withdraw under parole. When the withdrawal began, some of Montcalm's Indian allies attacked the British column because they were angry about the lost opportunity for loot, killing and capturing several hundred men, women, children, and slaves. The aftermath of the siege may have contributed to the transmission of smallpox into remote Indian populations, as some Indians were reported to have traveled from beyond the Mississippi to participate in the campaign and returned afterward. Modern writer William Nester believes that the Indians might have been exposed to European carriers, although no proof exists.
Vaudreuil and Montcalm were minimally resupplied in 1758, as the British blockade of the French coastline limited French shipping. The situation in New France was further exacerbated by a poor harvest in 1757, a difficult winter, and the allegedly corrupt machinations of François Bigot, the intendant of the territory. His schemes to supply the colony inflated prices and were believed by Montcalm to line his pockets and those of his associates. A massive outbreak of smallpox among western Indian tribes led many of them to stay away from trading in 1758. The disease probably spread through the crowded conditions at William Henry after the battle;yet the Indians blamed the French for bringing "bad medicine" as well as denying them prizes at Fort William Henry.
Montcalm focused his meager resources on the defense of the St. Lawrence, with primary defenses at Carillon, Quebec, and Louisbourg, while Vaudreuil argued unsuccessfully for a continuation of the raiding tactics that had worked quite effectively in previous years.The British failures in North America combined with other failures in the European theater and led to Newcastle's fall from power along with the Duke of Cumberland, his principal military advisor.
Newcastle and Pitt joined in an uneasy coalition in which Pitt dominated the military planning. He embarked on a plan for the 1758 campaign that was largely developed by Loudoun. He had been replaced by Abercrombie as commander in chief after the failures of 1757. Pitt's plan called for three major offensive actions involving large numbers of regular troops supported by the provincial militias, aimed at capturing the heartlands of New France. Two of the expeditions were successful, with Fort Duquesne and Louisbourg falling to sizable British forces.
The Forbes Expedition was a British campaign in September–October 1758, with 6,000 troops led by General John Forbes sent to drive out the French from the contested Ohio Country. The French withdrew from Fort Duquesne and left the British in control of the Ohio River Valley.The great French fortress at Louisbourg in Nova Scotia was captured after a siege.
The third invasion was stopped with the improbable French victory in the Battle of Carillon, in which 3,600 Frenchmen defeated Abercrombie's force of 18,000 regulars, militia, and Indian allies outside the fort which the French called Carillon and the British called Ticonderoga. Abercrombie saved something from the disaster when he sent John Bradstreet on an expedition that successfully destroyed Fort Frontenac, including caches of supplies destined for New France's western forts and furs destined for Europe. Abercrombie was recalled and replaced by Jeffery Amherst, victor at Louisbourg.
The French had generally poor results in 1758 in most theaters of the war. The new foreign minister was the duc de Choiseul, and he decided to focus on an invasion of Britain to draw British resources away from North America and the European mainland. The invasion failed both militarily and politically, as Pitt again planned significant campaigns against New France and sent funds to Britain's mainland ally of Prussia, while the French Navy failed in the 1759 naval battles at Lagos and Quiberon Bay. In one piece of good fortune, some French supply ships did manage to depart France and elude the British blockade of the French coast.
British victories continued in all theaters in a year later called the Annus Mirabilis. The British proceeded to wage a campaign in the northwest frontier of Canada in an effort to cut off the French frontier forts to the west and south. The British captured Ticonderoga, Fort Niagara, as well as the defeat of the French at the Thousand Islands in the summer of 1759. In September 1759, James Wolfe defeated Montcalm at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, in a battle that claimed the lives of both commanders. After the battle, the city was capitulated to the British.
In April 1760, François Gaston de Lévis led French forces in an attempt to retake the city. Although victorious in battle, French attempts to retake Quebec City was prevented with the British naval victory at Restigouche, a naval battle that saw the loss of French ships meant to resupply Lévis' army.
Most of the fighting ended in continental North America in 1760, although it continued in Europe between France and Britain. The notable exception was the French seizure of St. John's, Newfoundland. General Amherst heard of this surprise action and immediately dispatched troops under his nephew William Amherst, who regained control of Newfoundland after the Battle of Signal Hill in September 1762.Many troops from North America were reassigned to participate in further British actions in the West Indies, including the capture of Spanish Havana when Spain belatedly entered the conflict on the side of France, and a British expedition against French Martinique in 1762 led by Major General Robert Monckton.
Governor Vaudreuil in Montreal negotiated a capitulation with General Amherst in September 1760. Amherst granted his requests that any French residents who chose to remain in the colony would be given freedom to continue worshiping in their Roman Catholic tradition, to own property, and to remain undisturbed in their homes. The British provided medical treatment for the sick and wounded French soldiers, and French regular troops were returned to France aboard British ships with an agreement that they were not to serve again in the present war.
General Amherst also oversaw the transition of French forts to British control in the western lands. The policies which he introduced in those lands disturbed large numbers of Indians and contributed to Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763.This series of attacks on frontier forts and settlements required the continued deployment of British troops, and it was not resolved until 1766.
The war in North America officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 10 February 1763, and war in the European theater was settled by the Treaty of Hubertusburg on 15 February 1763. The British offered France the choice of surrendering either its continental North American possessions east of the Mississippi or the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, which had been occupied by the British. France chose to cede the former but was able to negotiate the retention of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, two small islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, along with fishing rights in the area. They viewed the economic value of the Caribbean islands' sugar cane to be greater and easier to defend than the furs from the continent. French philosopher Voltaire referred to Canada disparagingly as nothing more than a few acres of snow. The British, however, were happy to take New France, as defence of their North American colonies would no longer be an issue; they also had ample places from which to obtain sugar. Spain traded Florida to Britain in order to regain Cuba, but they also gained Louisiana from France, including New Orleans, in compensation for their losses. Great Britain and Spain also agreed that navigation on the Mississippi River was to be open to vessels of all nations.
The war changed economic, political, governmental, and social relations among the three European powers, their colonies, and the people who inhabited those territories. France and Britain both suffered financially because of the war, with significant long-term consequences.
Britain gained control of French Canada and Acadia, colonies containing approximately 80,000 primarily French-speaking Roman Catholic residents. The deportation of Acadians beginning in 1755 made land available to immigrants from Europe and migrants from the colonies to the south. The British resettled many Acadians throughout its American provinces, but many went to France and some went to New Orleans, which they expected to remain French. Some were sent to colonize places as diverse as French Guiana and the Falkland Islands, but these efforts were unsuccessful. The Louisiana population contributed to founding the Cajun population. (The French word "Acadien" changed to "Cadien" then to "Cajun".)
King George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763 on October 7, 1763 which outlined the division and administration of the newly conquered territory, and it continues to govern relations to some extent between the government of Canada and the First Nations. Included in its provisions was the reservation of lands west of the Appalachian Mountains to its Indian population,a demarcation that was only a temporary impediment to a rising tide of westward-bound settlers. The proclamation also contained provisions that prevented civic participation by the Roman Catholic Canadians.
The Quebec Act of 1774 addressed issues brought forth by Roman Catholic French Canadians from the 1763 proclamation, and it transferred the Indian Reserve into the Province of Quebec. The Act maintained French Civil law, including the seigneurial system, a medieval code removed from France within a generation by the French Revolution. The Quebec Act was a major concern for the largely Protestant Thirteen Colonies over the advance of "popery". It is typically associated with other Intolerable Acts, legislation that eventually led to the American Revolutionary War. The Quebec Act served as the constitutional document for the Province of Quebec until it was superseded by the Constitutional Act 1791.
The Seven Years' War nearly doubled Great Britain's national debt. The Crown sought sources of revenue to pay it off and attempted to impose new taxes on its colonies. These attempts were met with increasingly stiff resistance, until troops were called in to enforce the Crown's authority, and they ultimately led to the start of the American Revolutionary War.France attached comparatively little value to its American possessions, apart from the highly profitable sugar-producing Antilles islands which it retained. Minister Choiseul considered that he had made a good deal at the Treaty of Paris, and Voltaire wrote that Louis XV had lost "a few acres of snow". However, the military defeat and the financial burden of the war weakened the French monarchy and contributed to the advent of the French Revolution in 1789.
The elimination of French power in America meant the disappearance of a strong ally for some Indian tribes.The Ohio Country was now more available to colonial settlement due to the construction of military roads by Braddock and Forbes. The Spanish takeover of the Louisiana territory was not completed until 1769, and it had modest repercussions. The British takeover of Spanish Florida resulted in the westward migration of Indian tribes who did not want to do business with them. This migration also caused a rise in tensions between the Choctaw and the Creek, historic enemies who were competing for land. The change of control in Florida also prompted most of its Spanish Catholic population to leave. Most went to Cuba, although some Christianized Yamasee were resettled to the coast of Mexico.
France returned to America in 1778 with the establishment of a Franco-American alliance against Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War, in what historian Alfred A. Cave describes as French "revenge for Montcalm's death".
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William Shirley was a British colonial administrator who was the longest-serving governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and then Governor of the Bahamas (1760–1768). He is best known for his role in organizing the 1745 Siege of Louisbourg during King George's War, and for his role in military affairs during the French and Indian War. He spent most of his years in the colonial administration of North America working to defeat New France, but his lack of formal military training led to political difficulties and his eventual downfall.
The 1759 Battle of Ticonderoga was a minor confrontation at Fort Carillon on July 26 and 27, 1759, during the French and Indian War. A British military force of more than 11,000 men under the command of General Sir Jeffery Amherst moved artillery to high ground overlooking the fort, which was defended by a garrison of 400 Frenchmen under the command of Brigadier General François-Charles de Bourlamaque.
The Battle of Fort Oswego was one in a series of early French victories in the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War won in spite of New France's military vulnerability. During the week of August 10, 1756, a force of regulars and Canadian militia under General Montcalm captured and occupied the British fortifications at Fort Oswego, located at the site of present-day Oswego, New York.
Shingas, was a leader of the Delaware (Lenape) people in the Ohio Country and a noted American Indian warrior on the western frontier during the French and Indian War. Dubbed "Shingas the Terrible" by Anglo-Americans during the war, Shingas led devastating raids against white settlements. The colonial governments of both Pennsylvania and Virginia responded by offering rewards to anyone who would kill him.
The Battle of Fort Necessity took place on July 3, 1754, in what is now Farmington in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. The engagement, along with the May 28 skirmish known as the Battle of Jumonville Glen, was George Washington's first military experience and the only surrender of his military career. The Battle of Fort Necessity began the French and Indian War, which later spiraled into the global conflict known as the Seven Years' War.
The Battle of Jumonville Glen, also known as the Jumonville affair, was the opening battle of the French and Indian War, fought on May 28, 1754, near present-day Hopwood and Uniontown in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. A company of colonial militia from Virginia under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Washington, and a small number of Mingo warriors led by Tanacharison, ambushed a force of 35 Canadiens under the command of Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville.
The Battle of Fort Bull was a French attack on the British-held Fort Bull on 27 March 1756, early in the French and Indian War. The fort was built to defend a portion of the waterway connecting Albany, New York to Lake Ontario via the Mohawk River.
Montcalm and Wolfe (ISBN 0-306-80621-5) is the sixth volume in Francis Parkman's seven-volume history, France and England in North America, originally published in 1884. It tells the story of the French and Indian War. Its title refers to Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and James Wolfe, the commanding generals of the French and English forces respectively and to whom the book devotes particular attention. Parkman considered the book his masterpiece.
Joseph Louis Cook, or Akiatonharónkwen (Mohawk), was an Iroquois leader and commissioned officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Born to an African father and an Abenaki mother in what is now Schuylerville, New York, he and his mother were taken captive in a French-Mohawk raid and taken to Kahnawake, a Mohawk village south of Montreal. They were adopted by a Mohawk family. His mother soon died and he served Catholic missionaries, learning French. He became an influential leader among the Mohawk and distinguished himself as a warrior for their allies the French during the French and Indian War.
The Forbes Expedition was a British military expedition led by Brigadier-General John Forbes in 1758, during the latter stages of the French and Indian War.
Great Britain was one of the major participants in the Seven Years' War which lasted between 1754 and 1763, although warfare in the European Theatre involving countries other than Britain and France only commenced in 1756. Britain emerged from the war as the world's leading colonial power, having gained a number of new territories at the Treaty of Paris in 1763 and established itself as the world's pre-eminent naval power.
France was one of the leading participants in the Seven Years' War which lasted between 1754 and 1763. France entered the war with the hope of achieving a lasting victory against Prussia, Britain and their German allies and with the hope of expanding its colonial possessions.(1)
Colonial American military history is the military record of the Thirteen Colonies from their founding to the American Revolution in 1775.
Colonel Patrick Mackellar (1717–1778) was a British army officer and military engineer who played a significant role in the early history of North America. He was the deputy chief engineer at the Siege of Louisbourg (1758) and the chief engineer at the siege of Quebec in 1759. In later years he was responsible for the design and construction of the town of Es Castell on the island of Menorca.
Provincial troops were raised by the colonial governors and legislatures for extended operations during the French and Indian Wars. The provincial troops differed from the militia, in that they were a full-time military organization conducting extended operations. They differed from the regular British Army, in that they were recruited only for one campaign season at the time. These forces were often recruited through a quota system applied to the militia. Officers were appointed by the provincial governments. During the eighteenth century militia service was increasingly seen as a prerogative of the social and economic well-established, while provincial troops came to be recruited from different and less deep-rooted members of the community.